13 July 2012


I can successfully make bread (after failing to use yeast in baking 4 times in my life)! Wonderful news. Next semester, I'm going to bring a giant bowl for bread-making purposes. So simple and delicious! I expect to make many loaves of bread when I'm upset (often). Time to get that pound of yeast on Amazon :D

I reckon that I had too many dead yeast when I made yeast-leavened products. I'm not sure why it failed in Food Tech 6 years ago, but I think this is what happened the last three times:
1. Croissants - apparently, I used dead yeast, because there was no dough rise.
2. Croissants - some dough rise, but I probably killed off most of the yeast when I added water to proof it (water was probably too hot).
3. Bread - dough rose, but probably not enough. Then, the recipe said to stick it under steaming water in an oven for 30 minutes, and although the dough did rise a bit more, I promptly overbaked the dough and ended up with a biscuit thing.

Because there will be no more premature murdering of yeast, I now proclaim myself capable of baking yeast bread, using both instant and active dry yeast. Sure, it's not delicious bread yet, but it's perfectly finger-burning hot and mouthwatering. It's also not that difficult and makes my room smell like yeast (while dough is rising), and then bread (while bread is cooling).

So, what have I made?

On the 10th, SP and I used instant yeast to make "Fast French Rolls" by Mark Bittman. SP picked out the author, because he's apparently pretty cool. Notably, bread is something that SP has made before I have (he makes it with his mum).

For simplicity, we modified the recipe  so that I wouldn't have a few grams of yeast just lying around. We ended up with 9 rolls, and it took us 3 hours (of course, we did other stuff when the dough was rising).

Ingredients we used:
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 tsp salt
1 packet of instant yeast (7g)
~2 cups of water (the recipe says to just keep adding tbsps until you get a nice dough. This was not very informative for people who have never successfully made bread before (me).

We followed the Method really closely until we got to shaping the rolls (I wanted to make baguettes, but the pans and oven are all too small). That's when we started squishing a lot of the dough, which probably resulted in our slightly dense bread. I suppose, for bread-making, preheating the oven actually IS important. Unfortunately, our bread didn't have a golden brown crust...but it was oh-so-crusty! I love crust, and SP loves crumb (the inside part of the bread). I envision a lot of bread sharing in the future.

So that was a success! The bread had a delicious crust, a dense interior, and was a bit too dry (a bit like stale bread). It tasted fine the next day, although SP didn't like it as much. I ended up bringing my whole wedge of Asiago cheese and a handful of arugula with me to work because I didn't have time to assemble a sandwich at home. I had to explain this to my co-workers, as I sat there, nibbling at the cheese! Unfortunately, I don't love Asiago - it's hard, sour/salty, a tad pungent, and really sharp. However, it's still a treat.

Today, I decided to make some dinner rolls, using the active dry yeast. Turns out that I AM capable of using both instant AND active dry yeast! I'm not sure which one I will buy in bulk though.

I made half of the recipe, but didn't use any eggs, but also used 1/4 cup of oil instead of 1/8.

Ingredient modifications for 24 SMALL (mochi sized) dinner rolls
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup body temperature water
A few tbsp sugar
1/4 c oil
pinch of salt
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour

I had some minor issues.
  • First, my dough was a bit too gooey after it doubled in size. I still don't really know what "good" bread dough is supposed to be like, but this one looked a bit too spongy and soft. I blame it on the excess oil used (1/4 instead of 1/8...forgot to divide this!)
  • Second, while making the rolls, I truly thought that 1/24 of the dough was too small to make a roll. Sure, mochi-sized bread is cute, but I wanted a dinner roll, the size of a tennis ball. So instead, I was going to divide the dough into 16 pieces. However, halfway through twisting off the dough pieces (this is probably bad technique), I realized that I'd have to figure out the baking time and temperatures for the bigger lumps of dough. So I re-rolled and twisted off 24 little blobs of dough, hoping that they would rise.
  • Then, I decided to do the second dough rise in the non-baking pans (I put those in the oven to warm up). So, when I wanted to transfer the re-risen dough balls onto the oven pans, I ended up squashing every single perfectly round piece. It was a disaster. I was upset. I also merged some of the dough balls together because they were really small (and they baked completely normally). So I ended up with some rolls in the midst of cytokinesis.

I checked the oven every 5 minutes, and turned it off at 12 minutes. I then let the rolls sit in there for 3 minutes and then took the three pans out. They were cooked. Edible. Hot. Sort of crispy exterior, fluffy interior. I guess I wanted a chewy dinner roll. This roll was dry (sigh) and slightly bland. Well! Mini Asiago and arugula hamburgers for lunch tomorrow (minus the patty)!

Not bad for my first two real attempts at yeast bread-making; in fact, these were much better than the Olive Garden breadsticks (the worst, but my sister loves them). My baking can only get better.

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